Big Data Jobs for Data Scientists - dummies

Big Data Jobs for Data Scientists

By Jason Williamson

Have you ever wondered how big data applies to jobs for data scientists? Data scientists take the recommendations that the business analysts make and do a variety of tasks including the following:

  • Build the technical case. They apply advanced math and statics to build the technical cases around the hypotheses that the business analysts build. Data scientists are tasked with building the models required to test these theories. This model is important to big data. You start with a hypothesis.

  • Create the mathematical models. These models measure what positive sentiment means and then can model what tests need to be run to find correlations between that and price increases.

  • Discover patterns, trends, and correlations. Some tasks may not necessarily start with a hypothesis. This is where the real power of big data comes in. You find patterns and trends you didn’t even know existed.

The skill required here is to take a business idea and model it with numbers and data. Data scientists take that data and turn it into information.

Assessing your interest

As with the business analysts, there are a set of questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re a fit for this type of job. Roles as a pure data scientist often require a master’s degree or a PhD. So, you should carefully consider the following questions.

Are you naturally inquisitive?

Just as a business analyst needs to think in terms of building hypotheses, the data scientist needs to have aptitude in this area. Computer scientists need to be able to construct models that can prove or disprove a given business hypothesis. Can you see beyond the surface issues and go deep? Do you know when a result has potential and needs further testing? Are you passionate about technology?

Can you focus for a long time?

The journey required to complete a PhD or advanced degree in the big data field can be a long one. You have to commit a significant amount of study to a specific area of research.

Are there areas of math, statistics, or computer science that you have a passion for studying? Do you want to address big problems that may take years to solve? Do you like to write? Can you maintain intense focus on a few topics for many years — maybe for an entire career?

Are you self-motivated?

Data scientists need to be able to direct their own intellectual paths. Do you naturally follow a solution to its end? Do you have a knack for knowing where to find answers if you don’t know them?

Are you multidisciplined?

Data scientists need to be knowledgeable in multiple areas — math, statistics, and computer science. Can you pick up computer science languages and concepts easily? Does the idea of a new language excite you or intimidate you? Can you easily collaborate with others to learn new things?

Idea to reality

Data modeling requires the ability to take business concepts and ideas and model those within a world driven by numbers and data concepts. Do you have the aptitude or interest to build experiments that capture the business value?

Looking at a job posting

Let’s take a look at job posting for a data scientist. The posting is aligned with an academic or research-oriented position and was actually posted on several job search websites such as Indeed and SimplyHired. The job is grounded in math and statistics.

Research Scientist Physiological Data Modeling

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation (HJF) is looking for junior and senior scientists to join the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Biotechnology High Performance Computing Software Applications Institute (BHSAI;). HJF provides scientific, technical, and programmatic support services to the BHSAI.

This opening is for dynamic scientists who are interested in

  • Working with colleagues in other disciplines

  • Applying computational solutions to biomedical problems

  • Doing signal processing of time series physiological data

  • Doing data mining, creating data-driven and physiological-based models, and working with artificial intelligence programs

The candidate should have a PhD in a related discipline and a strong publication record. The candidate is expected to simultaneously work on multiple projects, involving a diverse and interdisciplinary team of scientists across multiple laboratories.

Foreign nationals are welcome to apply. U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status is not required. This position is located in Frederick, Maryland.

The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF) is a congressionally authorized, not-for-profit corporation that provides unparalleled scientific and management services to military medical research and education programs worldwide. Our mission is to advance military medical research. AA/EEO (Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer).

Two main things are important to point out in this posting:

  • You need to know how to find value in data to be a data scientist. They are building complicated algorithms oriented around research which requires a deep understanding of data and how to construct data to extract value.

  • There is some apparent crossover in function with the computer scientist’s role. The distinction is made around the matter of expertise the employee will have. The reference to having “a PhD in a related discipline and a strong publication record” means that the candidate has done real research in the area of big data and has published findings in an academic journal. This isn’t just being able to spin up Hadoop clusters or create complex data stores.

    Data scientists have the skill and interest in using big data to conduct research and development. This requires a special set of skills and a desire and ability to publish in scientific and scholarly journals. The most significant aspects of the posting are having a foundation in math and statistics, data mining, and mathematical modeling. These are the everyday tools of the data scientist.